Winter is here, and for some that may equal those dreaded winter blues. Do you feel sad, lethargic, experience difficulty focusing or fatigue during winter? You’re not alone. With colder weather and shorter days, a lot of us experience the winter blues. For many, this feeling is temporary and can be managed with simple lifestyle changes. But for others, it can be a more severe type of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which reaching out to a health care provider can be helpful for. This blog is focused on those who tend to have a harder time during the colder months. So if that sounds like you, there is good news! Here are some steps you can take to beat the winter blues.
If you feel like the symptoms are severe please seek professional help. There is a major difference between feeling the winter blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Feeling sad can be normal during the colder months, however if it’s interfering with your ability to function in your daily life, it could be serious and you should seek professional help.
During the winter months, many of us leave the house when it is still dark and we sit in offices with barely any windows all day. We go outside less because of how cold it is and we return home usually when its already dark. During these seasons it’s easier to feel a sense sadness and fatigue. Here is what can help ease those feelings.
Turn the TV OFF!
During the winter months we tend to stay inside more and we can easily spend hours watching tv or the news. Minimize the time you spend watching the news. If it’s on an endless cycle we can begin to feel depressed by some of the news we are hearing. (It’s hardly ever good!) Make a plan to limit your TV time and find other ways to entertain yourself. Reading a book can help transfer you to another place and time. Research recipes you’ve been wanting to try. That recipe you saw on a buzzfeed article or on Instagram — give it a go!
Try a new hobby or activity. It could be as simple as trying a new board or card game, cooking, crafts, knitting or outdoor activities if you don’t mind the cold. You may find a new hobby or passion that gets you through these cold darker months.
Boost Your Mood and Ambiance
Don’t fight the season, instead embrace it! Use some ambient lighting to turn up the coziness level. Light some candles, choose a scent you love that brings you happiness or triggers a memory that brings you joy. Get some cozy and soft textiles and lounge wear you love. Maybe even some silly socks or fun slippers! Create a playlist that you love.
Getting quality foods in your system is important. Since getting vitamin D is harder during the winter months, make sure you’re eating foods with vitamin D. These can include salmon, sardines, egg yolks, red meat, and vitamin fortified cereals. Good quality food can help balance your mood. Winter is a great time to break out grandma’s old recipes or try something nourishing and comforting.
Seek Out The Sun
Getting outside is important during the winter months. Even though it’s colder and wetter, go outside as much as possible. Take a drive to a warmer location and stay for a few days if you need to. If you can’t travel thats ok. Open those curtains and let in natural light. Put on your coziest warm clothes and go for a walk around your neighborhood in the daylight.
Start a workout program or even just go for regular walks. Exercise has been shown to boost mood, decrease the symptoms of depression and reduce stress. You can start slow with 10 minutes a day and each week increase by 10 minutes till you can get 60 minutes a day of physical activity. The simplest thing you can do is get outside and go for a walk. In a Harvard study, people who walked just 20 min a day had 43% fewer sick days than those who didn’t. That increased immune system power is crucial during the colder months.
Contact those who bring you happiness and who fill you with joy. Your support system of family and friends is crucial for fending off winter blues. A phone call, getting together for coffee or dinner, a walk together or even if by zoom if needed. Getting together or socializing helps us all. It boosts our mood and strengthens bonds. We all need that especially during those tough colder months.
There are a lot of changes we can make to help us during these winter months to bring us joy and bring joy to others. Many of them small and manageable! However, if you feel like nothing is working and are finding yourself isolating and having difficulty getting on with your daily life please seek help. You are not alone. Depression is a serious matter and is not something to be ashamed of. We all need help from time to time. So if you feel like this steps aren’t helping. Let your support system know and ask for help from a professional.